Fortescue Premier Grade Round One Preview

Tue, Mar 14, 2023, 6:36 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

That's it. Pre-season is done and dusted and the whistle will blow on Saturday's opening games of the 2023 Fortescue Premier Grade season. 

Round one of the historic year kicks off with a blockbuster Grand Final rematch between UWA and Wests Scarborough at UWA Sports Park - and the home side are out to turn the tables and take revenge for their 45-37 defeat in the 2022 silverware decider.

UWA coach Alex Stajka said the loss may have been six months ago but the disappointment was still raw and his side was hungry to go one better.

"We've got some wrongs to right. Some scores to settle," Stajka said.

"The loss definitely left a sour taste.

"When the fixtures came out the boys were up and about ready to have a good go at Wests.

"They are pretty excited about it."

Stajka has retained the bulk of last year's squad and is looking to develop their game from last season.

"We've lost a couple of boys but we've kept the core group together and I'm pretty confident in them," he said.

"We've spoken about how important it is to keep developing our game and add layers to it.

"We have changed a couple of things.

'We like to play an open, expansive game of rugby but can also be pragmatic when we need to be."

With relegation on the line for one side for the first time this year, Stajka said all clubs had to be at their best through three grades all season.

"There's no excuses," he said.

"Everyone has been given fair warning and it's now down to every club to make it happen.

"We're looking pretty good.

"The season has crept up on us pretty quickly and the few weeks lost for the early start have meant a huge difference."

Southern Lions coach Jerard Saunders is taking a realistic approach to the coming campaign.

Saunders is in his first full season in charge after taking over midway through last year when he stepped up from reserves grade.

"From a Southern Lions point of view we have got no rear-view mirror. We've got nobody to look back at," Saunders said.

"All we're doing is aiming forward. That's the best way to put it.

"We don't want to be the first to go (down) and it's important for the guys to know there's no going back.

"It's all in. We have to keep pushing on.

"It has to be like that for us.

"The guys have to understand where the club has come from.

"If we don't take that approach and if we are complacent and rest on our laurels the club will not be where it wants to be next season.

"Having said that we are looking pretty good but it's important that we get three grades out, very much so.

"We have been driving that because third's have to understand that it's not just up to the premier and reserve grades.

"It's up to all three teams to make a good standing for the year.

"This year is very important for the club."

The RugbyWA Cup, held by UWA as the rollover holders from last season, will be on the line in the Grand Final rematch.

The game will be live on Stan Sport and the Cottesloe v Nedlands clash at Harvey Field will be the feature match on the RugbyWA YouTube channel. 

Premiership round one fixtures: UWA v Wests Scarborough, Cottesloe v Nedlands, Southern Lions v Kalamunda, Wanneroo Districts v Associates, Perth Bayswater v Joondalup, Palmyra, Bye.

The Championship and Community grades start on 22 April.